Abercrombie and Inouye were not allies. In fact, their two-decade relationship in Congress was marked by rifts — most notably over Inouye’s encouragement of a primary challenger to Abercrombie in the 2010 governor’s race. Abercrombie and Schatz were running mates in that same election…

In 2010, Inouye encouraged Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann to run in the gubernatorial primary against Abercrombie, although the senator never made an explicit endorsement. The longtime senator was also critical of Abercrombie’s decision to leave Congress early to run for governor, noting that he was leaving Democrats a vote short on major votes.

Inouye and his aides made clear shortly before his death last week that his final wish was to ensure Hanabusa succeeds him in the Senate. Hanabusa; Schatz (pronounced “shots”); and Esther Kia’aina, deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, were the finalists for the position.